If there is one thing we know about being a military spouse it is that many things considered "normal" in our households would curl our civilian neighbors' hairs.
Usually, it feels pretty good to hear a fellow milspouse reassure you that what you're experiencing is normal. Many times, though, even something normal can still be pretty hard to swallow.
We're gearing up for the training period that will lead to my husband's deployment to Iraq. Aside from the fact that we, as a Guard family, didn't receive the typical lead up time or notice, the news has been met at our house with no true surprise. It isn't a matter of "if", after all, but a matter of "when" so it isn't like anyone can be completely shocked.
I've talked to LOTS of military spouses, read their blogs, exchanged e-mail with them, etc. and I have read a ton of information regarding the behavioral changes one can expect as their spouse prepares to deploy. I've even reassured readers here at SpouseBuzz that what they are experiencing is normal and that they need to just hang in there, take it with a grain of salt and drive on.
If, at any point, I ever made any of you feel like I was glossing over your feelings or that I just didn't get it, I apologize. I hope once you have the benefit of a little time passing between those rocky moments, you will be able to do what I did–kind of forget. I honestly don't remember previous deployment cycles bringing out this interesting portion of my husband's personality. It could be because they never showed up this often and unpredictably or, it could be that I just blocked those moments from my memory so I could keep doing what needed to be done.
I haven't been posting at SpouseBuzz as regularly as I used to because, honestly, I haven't felt like I've had anything productive to add to the conversation. Then, my mom said, "Don't you think there are other wives whose husbands do and say ridiculously harsh things who would like to know that everything at your house isn't always a laugh riot?"
Oh, Mom. She has a way with words.
It's hard to deal with the yelling, the snapping, the peevish demeanor and zoned out behavior which seems to intensify with each passing day. And, I'm an expert at 'borrowing trouble' so I've already begun to worry what reintegration at the end of this deployment will be like. Ugh!
Our situation is intensified because right before we learned of the deployment, we began the process of an international adoption. Now, our fundraising, paperwork and everything else has been put on a rush and I'm sure that doesn't help my husband's ability to keep an even keel. It's harder still because I'm still looking for a real job so financially it's been tight.
Then, bring on the stress of the holidays! I'm sure some of you, like me, wanted to make some 2008 holiday memories that will carry the family through 2009's holiday season when you're doing this alone only to have that clouded by a tense moment or, as in my case, an all out come apart. Truthfully, no amount of reassurance that this is normal makes a person feel better.
So, instead of telling you it's normal, I will tell you–I hear you. I feel for you. I'm here for you. I know it's hard not to doubt, even when you know this person is your other half, that something is seriously wrong with your relationship. I feel goofy even writing that because it sounds so dramatic…but, if there is one thing about pre-deployment angst–it can be pretty dramatic.
There are definitely things that we know exceed the boundaries of 'normal' and if those things are happening to you, take advantage of Military One Source to get help. I would even assert that you should take advantage of their services if the 'normal' becomes too much.
This is one of the tougher parts of our jobs as military spouses. Once we're on the other side of it, though, I'm counting on being a stronger and more confident military spouse. I wish that for all of us.